Jesse Metcalfe Says His Appearance Was 'Picked Apart' While on 'Desperate Housewives'

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Jesse Metcalfe is opening up about his time on Desperate Housewives. During a new interview with Vice's i-D Magazine, the 43-year-old actor, who played teen gardener John Rowland on the ABC series, said the show's shirtless scenes created "a lot of pressure" for him. 

"Being a sex symbol is very much about the roles that you play and my roles put me up on a pedestal," Metcalfe said. "But my appearance was also criticized and picked apart by a lot of people in the media. Having your shirt off in every episode of Housewives brought a lot of pressure."

He continued, "You have to stay in the best shape you can and then between projects, everyone expects you to stay in that shape 24/7, 365. That's not realistic. That's why paparazzi catch actors between projects looking 'out of shape' — they're taking time off and that includes the gym."

Metcalfe noted how taxing working out for a role can be, sharing that actors run their bodies into the ground to "stay fit."

"You can run your body into the ground working out, not to mention the other things male actors do to stay fit," the actor added. 

The Fortress star said he felt like he was typecast with his role on Desperate Housewives, adding that he didn't know what to do when the show ended.

"The industry tends to think if you look a certain way that's all you have to offer," he said. "The best thing I could've done at that time was be patient, which I was not. I did a string of indie films that didn't work and should've kept my nose clean, so to speak. Between jobs, I just didn't know what to do with myself."

Leaving the show in 2009 taught Metcalfe a lot about himself, forcing himself to figure out who he was without the foundation of the long-running series, which first aired in 2004 and ran for 8 seasons before ending in 2012, including going to "a lot of therapy."

"It definitely built character. I had to really look within and figure out who I really was because that's the foundation," Metcalfe shared.

"I've done a lot of soul-searching and a lot of therapy. I've come out stronger and better having been through what I've been through in my career," he added. "I wouldn't go back and change anything. The pain you experience is nine times out of 10 a lesson you need to learn. That pain doesn't go away until you've learnt it." 

Metcalfe opened up to ET in August about leaving another series, Hallmark Channel's Chesapeake Shores. Metcalfe, who's played singer-songwriter Trace Riley since the series' first episode in 2016, acknowledged that his decision to leave the hourlong series was largely unexpected.

But several factors, including a prolonged delay in production due to the pandemic, creative changes behind the scenes and a desire to begin a new chapter in his career, played a part in why he parted ways with Chesapeake Shores, which said goodbye to Metcalfe in his final episode that same month.

"Life's all about growth. I tend to put myself in challenging situations because I feel like that's the fastest way to grow. No one saw this decision coming for me to leave Chesapeake, but sometimes the hardest decisions are the best ones to make and the ones that you grow the most from," the 43-year-old actor, who traveled to Puerto Rico soon after to film The Fortress with Bruce Willis and Chad Michael Murray, exclusively tells ET. "I think this is one of those decisions."

But even with his exit, Metcalfe wasn't ruling out a return to the Hallmark series or a return to TV in general, saying he wants to be on a critically acclaimed show like Desperate Housewives again.

"I really want to get on a critically acclaimed cable TV show again," he shared. "I really want to up the bar in my career. Not to look down on any of the previous work that I've done, but I want to continue to pursue a film career and I think the best way to do that is to get on a respected, critically acclaimed television show."


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